One of the things I admire most about metal, aside from its obvious ability to inform and compel, is the genre’s inherent capacity for escapism. Flinging itself from that cosmic top turnbuckle, sometimes life descends on us hard. Between a career trajectory that, when I can look at it without wincing, appears disturbingly Escher-like, and some life decisions you’d be forgiven for thinking only a brain aneurysm could inspire, you better believe I don’t say no when a little distraction wanders my way. Enter God Dethroned, Dutch overlords of all things death and war-like, with their first release in seven years. The World Ablaze represents the final installment in a trilogy of concept albums based on World War I, thus already assuming the character of the record and putting it in direct competition with the mighty Passiondale (Passchendaele) and immediate predecessor Under the Sign of the Iron Cross. Reforming in 2014 to deliver this particular bomb burst, the question is: is it worth the wait?

It’s only fair to mention that I love God Dethroned. From the tectonic “Necromagnon” to the perfection of Bloody Blasphemy, I have drunk long and deep of the deity usurping Kool-Aid. Henri Sattler has always possessed an underrated ability to forge riffs that manage to seamlessly span black, death and thrash metal, with a penchant for sharp and melodic hooks. The World Ablaze is certainly no different, delivering a diverse collection of speeds and leads; in fact, the first thing of note is the album’s eye for varying tempos. After an intro, “Annihilation Crusade” rallies forth and it’s a familiar kind of advance. Blasting drums, thrash inspired melo-death riffs and an intensely memorable chorus are all in play, but the formula, anabolic as ever, has lost none of its potency. Sattler’s voice is noticeably deeper this time around, abandoning his classic sickening harpee rasps in favor of a more guttural approach, making for a fitting inclusion into the record’s historical narrative. The song also features some of Michiel van der Plicht’s finer blastbeats, a convention turned rarity with the album’s protracted pace a notable departure from his frenetic work on Iron Cross.

The title track, a particular favorite of mine, features sharp tremolo sequences amidst bay area riffing and maintains the deft heaviness whilst maniacally brandishing accessibility like a weapon. Between the more deliberate rhythms of “Wrong Side of the Wire” and “Messina Ridge,” the clear Bolt Thrower influence, and not just thematically, becomes increasingly apparent. The application is particularly evident in “Escape Across the Ice,” which marches over slow, militaristic riffing and profoundly succeeds in capturing images of a forlorn trudge through debilitating cold. What compounds each song, however, is the lead work. Newcomer, Mike Ferguson, trades often sorrowful and distinctly elegiac solos with Sattler, and it’s this melancholic element that gives much of the album, and indeed the trilogy it belongs to, a real credibility. God Dethroned deserve an amount of recognition alone for never glorifying the bloody horror that was WWI – each song captures that period of redefining global terror and relates it without too much of metal’s bloody excess; the subtlety is respectfully delivered and gratefully received.

Mixed by the one, Lord Dan of the Swanö, the instruments strike a fine harmony throughout the unobtrusively loud production. Sattler’s voice sits to the fore without dominating the signature guitar tone, keeping the material as vital as ever. None of the tracks are overtly lacking, but a handful are victim of their own archetype. Although one of the album’s faster cuts, “Close to Victory” is so typical of the band’s sound that it fails to be distinctive; similarly, the two instrumental interludes serve no real purpose and are perfunctory at best. Fortunately, “The 11th Hour” surmounts these sidesteps with a gloriously grim doom cadence and a surprisingly classic solo to finally bring the campaign to an end.

I’ve been cautiously optimistic of what fruit God Dethroned‘s reformation would bear, and I’m delighted to say it’s of unequivocally nutritious value. A more than fitting end to a great trilogy, and an album that basks in its creator’s identity, The World Ablaze represents astute conception and acute craftsmanship. With the future of the band ever uncertain, I for one hope that this isn’t a goodbye, but until we are again graced with another festival of searing melodicism, I’ll happily settle for this lingering au revoir.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 277 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 5th, 2017

  • Dethjesta

    I’ve been listening to this a lot since it came out on Friday. Great record, fully fitting end to a trilogy i’ve enjoyed greatly.

  • Nola Trash Talk

    I wanna put all three album’s tracks in chronological WWI order and then hike around Northern France and Belgium. Oh yes.

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    I was very excited when this album was announced, and I wanted to love it SO BAD….but I just don’t. It falls into the same bracket for me as the last 2 albums. Decent albums, but definitely several notches below the rest of their discography. The WWI trilogy just doesn’t do it for me. A World Ablaze may be the best of them, but after three full listens, I can tell that it will be shelved and rarely listened to. When I get in the mood for this band, I will choose the 6 albums from the 1997-2006 era.

  • AndySynn

    You were… not wrong.

    Although I actually like “Close to Victory” a lot, and feel like “Breathing Through Blood” is the most “stock” song.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Seriously. I feel like I should apologise, but at least yours is a much finer piece!

      • AndySynn

        No apology necessary. Just buy me a drink.

  • John Mosley

    Lately I’ve been working through Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series on WWI, “Blueprint for Armageddon.” This sounds like the perfect companion piece.

  • Aesir

    Cosmic top turnbuckle?
    I’m so stealing that. :)

    Oh, and can someone forward this track to everyone in France. :P

  • Reese Burns

    I’ve heard this band’s name before, but haven’t heard any of their music. Is there any particularly good starting point?

    • Dethjesta

      Bloody Blasphemy is a good starting point. It’s a bit less on the melodic side – more blackened death metal.

      • Reese Burns

        Thanks, I’ll jump on it ASAP!

    • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

      You should definitely seek out The Grand Grimoire, Bloody Blasphemy, Ravenous, The Lair Of the White Worm, The Toxic Touch, and Into the Lungs Of Hell. Absolutely PHENOMENAL albums!!!! Then listen to the WWI trilogy if you feel like it.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I really like God Dethroned… I hope they keep going.

    • Drew Music

      Passiondale is so unfuckwithable it hurts. No Survivors never fails to bring goosebumps with its haunting clean section. Granted, their clean vox are minimal and not their most standout trait, but that track is one of the best examples of clean vocals being used in death metal that I’ve ever heard.

  • Johan

    “Enter God Dethroned, Dutch overlords of all things death and war-like”

    Hail of bullets would like to have a few words in their office…

    I remember digging Ravenous and the Lair of the white worm, it will be interesting to hear how this new album sounds.

    • David Mackowiak Jr.

      Hail of Bullets broke up, tho

  • Patrick W. Dunne

    New God Dethroned! I’m excited to give this a listen. It’s been too long since I’ve listened to them.

  • Roquentin

    To whomever asked me for good recent melodath albums when I panned Nightrage: this is it.

    • Alex Benedict

      new mors principium??

      • Roquentin

        Yes, that one too. I mention it in my review of Nightrage’s latest.

  • TminusEight

    This is excellent!